When Common Sense Prevails Over Politics: 5 Indicators FERC Decision Should Inform Looming ITC Remedy
In a decision that rapidly rippled throughout the electricity generation community—the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued an order terminating its docket intended to review the Department of Energy’s notice of proposed rulemaking (NOPR). The NOPR, widely recognized as an attempt to shore up uneconomic coal and nuclear, was rejected for failure to establish a sufficient record that current wholesale rates are unjust and unreasonable, as required by the Federal Power Act. Following the final 2017 tax bill – which included amendments largely saving tax equity investment in renewable projects - this week’s FERC order sends a strong signal to the market, and one that should inform President Trump’s final remedy decision in the ITC solar trade case. Here are five key points to consider:
With the Senate version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (H.R. 1) passing on December 2, we’re now in the midst of House-Senate Conference for resolution of the differences between the two bills. The differences are quite significant, which suggests an intensive and difficult negotiation over the next number of days as they seek to agree on a final bill that must be approved by both chambers before heading to the President’s desk.
As we’ve stated before, both the Senate and House versions of Tax Cuts and Jobs Act contain provisions that would undermine the investment tools that have been critical to the growth of America’s burgeoning renewable energy economy.
Today we’re publishing a brief paper outlining the provisions of concern to renewable energy in the House and Senate Bills, and suggesting repairs that can keep the sector growing. The key provisions include a direct assault on renewable tax credits in the House bill, and the Alternative Minimum Tax and Base Erosion Anti-abuse Tax (BEAT) provisions in the Senate Bill. To download this overview, click here.
The Wall Street Journal published a misguided editorial over the weekend that supported the House tax bill’s damaging provisions to retroactively revise wind incentives. I wanted to share ACORE’s response in my letter to the editor, which was published in print on Nov. 15 as the lead response to their editorial (full text below).
A few weeks ago, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry proposed that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) intervene in the nation’s electricity markets to establish new rules that would have electricity consumers subsidize uneconomical coal and nuclear power plants and pay more for power in their electricity bills.
As reported recently by The Hill, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt thinks the solar investment tax credit and wind production tax credit should be eliminated.
Speaking at an event in Kentucky, Pruitt said “I would do away with these incentives that we give to wind and solar…I’d let them stand on their own and compete against coal and natural gas and other sources, and let utilities make real-time market decisions on those types of things as opposed to being propped up by tax incentives and other types of credits that occur, both in the federal level and state level."
In a follow-up response letter published in the Oct. 17 print edition of the The Hill, I offered the following response on behalf of the renewables industry:
Four project developers did a rapid survey across the renewable energy finance landscape at the 14th annual Wall Street Renewable Energy Finance Forum in New York in late June. The conference is organized by the American Council on Renewable Energy and Euromoney.
The four are Jim Murphy, president and chief operating officer of Invenergy, Gaetan Frotte, senior vice president and treasurer of NRG Energy, Jim Trousdale, chief financial officer of Apex Clean Energy, and Michael Silvestrini, CEO of Greenskies Renewable Energy. (Silvestrini left Greenskies in July to become managing partner of Energia, an international project developer specializing in the commercial and industrial solar markets in Latin America and Asia.) The moderator is Keith Martin with Norton Rose Fulbright in Washington.